OTHER than the election polls, a world conference on May that would decide the fate of nuclear proliferation is another event Filipinos should keep an eye on, a Philippine ambassador said last week.

The warning came just before India tested a nuclear-capable missile last Sunday.

The 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon), which was set on May 3 to 28 in New York City, will affect the country as its elected president is Philippine ambassador Libran Cabactulan, and its outcome will "eventually affect the protection of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers)" in the Middle East.

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Cabactulan in a forum in Cebu City on Wednesday said the country "is at the helm" of the conference's effect to the world and in turn would be one of the most affected by its outcome.

He said the Middle East has among the most sensitive countries on the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Middle East also has some three million OFWs.

Cabactulan said the challenge for the Philippines is how the discussions in the May conference could respond to the needs of OFWs should a nuclear-related problem occur in the volatile region.

"Whatever might be out contribution to the conference, if the outcome is a miscalculation to Iran, Iraq, or Israel, how to bring our kababayans would be a real challenge for the government and that's why it's very important (for the country). My view has also received appreciation from the delegation's big powers," Cabactulan said.

He also said that the maximum expectation from the conference is for facile materials or unaccounted "dirty bombs" not to reach the "hands of those with ill-intentions," and for global leaders including US President Barack Obama to follow-up their previous statements on supporting an action plan "for the total elimination of nuclear arms."

"You know how the terrorist network works. We do not want dirty bombs in our backyard. This is directly related to our national security, to us and our people," Cabactulan said.

The NPT started in 1970, with the Philippines joining it in 1972. It was extended indefinitely in 1995, 25 years after it was operationalized, with a provision that review conferences are to be held every five years to assess the operation and implementation of the treaty.

Cabactulan said "nothing happened" in 1995. In 2000, 13 practical steps "that could eventually lead to substantial elimination of nuclear arms" was crafted, but in 2005, no improvement was made.

"Our main position is simply reiterating the validity of the entity and agreements in 2000. Kung failure itong 2010 na conference baka mawala itong entity," he added.

Cabactulan spoke in a forum as part of the Philippine Press Institute seminar-workshop on civic journalism "Ready for the Elections" held in Waterfront Hotel in Cebu last February 2 to 5.

The top ambassador specifically requested the press to aid the Department of Foreign Affairs to convey to the public the sensitivity of the Philippine's position on nuclear proliferation in the world.

The NPT States-parties include the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Cuba, Egypt and Iran.

Also, the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations is among the international organizations joining.

In an international news from The Associated Press, India was reported to have successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile Sunday that can hit targets across much of Asia and the Middle East. The report was based on an Indian defense ministry press release.

It was the fourth test of the Agni III missile, the statement said. The first attempt in 2006 failed, but the last two tests were successful.

"The Agni III missile tested for the full range, hit the target with pinpoint accuracy and met all the mission objectives," the press release added.

India's current arsenal of missiles is largely intended for confronting archrival Pakistan. The Agni III, in contrast, is India's longest-range missile, designed to reach 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) — putting China's major cities well into range, as well as Middle Eastern targets.

India's homegrown missile arsenal already includes the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile, the medium-range Akash, the anti-tank Nag and the supersonic Brahmos missile, developed jointly with Russia.

The missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Orissa on Sunday morning. (JCZ)